“A Successful Collection of Failures”
While my dad and I were still discussing the layout of this book, I suggested that we group all of the accidents into one chapter and call it Head Injuries. After all, almost every member of our family has sustained at least one. This was later abandoned in exchange for the current semi-chronological format. In the last section, I talked about how Rachel was quite literal. Over the years, Andrew has proved he can be just as much of a pain in the butt—sorry, just as literal. The following incident occurred when he was still a young child. He had hurt himself and I was trying to console him. I was also trying to figure out how he had injured himself.
He had managed to bump his head on the curved, smooth portion of the wall in the hallway of our home. Big sister Rachel was not around to translate, so I was struggling to understand Andrews description of what had happened. I asked how he did itůmany times, but to no avail. I started with short simple questions like, “How did this happen?” Sensing his frustration, I rephrased the request to, “Show me how this happened.” I assured him that Daddy would “not be mad” if he would just open up to me. I thought he was worried about me keeping such a promise as he looked to me for reassurance. “I promise you Andrew, Daddy will not be mad if you just show me what happened.” Believing that his reluctance was due to his lack of confidence in my promise, I pushed on.
Rather than lock horns with him, I explained why I needed to know. He was still whimpering from the pain and shaking his head, indicating no interest in complying with my request. I detailed that it was necessary for me to understand the specifics of his head injury to be able to treat him properly. Im sure he sensed that I was becoming more impatient with each of his successive refusals. Perhaps he thought I wasnt about to comfort him further unless he obliged me. In my latter attempts, I was almost begging. However, it must have seemed more like a threat as I reiterated my request for the last time. Andrew finally agreed to show me what had happened. At full speed, he took a run at the wall, striking his head against it with great force and re-injuring himself in the process. I was dumbfounded. He had taken my use of the word “show” literally, and demonstrated how he had tripped while running, which had resulted in him landing head first into the wall—twice now, thanks to me.
I felt terrible and picked him up to console him. I tended to his wounds and reassured him that I loved him unconditionally. I didnt let him go until we had enjoyed a long cuddle, and until I felt he understood it was never my intention for him to relive the accident or the trauma.
Children always think you say what you mean ... and mean what you say.
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